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Education Programming

The History of the CompSci Degree 126

Esther Schindler writes "Young whippersnappers might imagine that Computer Science degrees — and the term "computer science" — have been around forever. But they were invented, after all, and early programmers couldn't earn a college degree in something that hadn't been created yet. In The Evolution of the Computer Science Degree, Karen Heyman traces the history of the term and the degree, and challenges you on a geek trivia question: Which U.S. college offered the first CS degree? (It's not an obvious answer.)"
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The History of the CompSci Degree

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  • ACM out of touch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:50PM (#40316605) Homepage

    âoeAt an academic level, it's a very different background,â says Bobby Schnabel, Dean of the School of Informatics at Indiana University and chair of the ACMâ(TM)s Education Policy Committee. "The calculus and differential equations that underlie engineering are not what underlies computer science. It's really discrete mathematics."

    That was true a few decades ago. Today, though, all that discrete math isn't as useful. Today, you need calculus and Bayesian statistics for machine learning. You need differential equations and computational geometry for game development and robotics. Number theory, mathematical logic, graph theory, and automata theory just aren't that important any more. Most of what's needed from those fields is now embodied in well-known algorithms.

    I got all the classic discrete math training, but over the years, I've had to use far more number-crunching math.

  • Re:ACM out of touch (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cryptizard ( 2629853 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:42PM (#40317201)
    Depends on what area of computer science you are in. For every field you point out that uses calculus I can point you to two more active areas of research that focus on discrete. Personally, I am in cryptography (which no one can argue as being "solved") where modern research still relies on new developments in the areas you downplay i.e number theory and graph theory (check out the new biclique attack on AES for an example).
  • Re:engineer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:54PM (#40317333)

    Depends, how many hours did you work, how much experience do you have, how many hours did you have to work to get there, how much vacation do you get, what's your pension like, what's your job stress like, where do you have to live etc. etc. etc. I know lots of professors who pick up their kids at 3pm every day, take 2 months at home in the summer (they still have to work some of that, but they are at home at least) taking care of the kid. You get to meet this constant stream of interesting people in academia etc. If you go off into industry with a PhD you can easily start at 100k a year at 26 years or 27 years old, and have all the vacation time, pension plan etc.

    PhD's aren't about the money, you are guaranteed enough to be reasonably successful in life, but how much effort you want to put into it is up to you.

    Oh, and where would you be without a bunch of PhD nerds inventing the languages who programmed in, the IDE's you used (or the command line compilers) the OS schedulers etc. Being able to program well is a skill, but computer scientists aren't programmers. You could have made 236 being a welder for all it matters, lots of scientists need to know how to weld, lots need to know how to program, but they don't do it well.

    You could well be in the top small fraction of the population intelligence wise. Which means it's unfortunate you didn't go to school, because you'd be making 350k a year not 236k. One of my buddies is about 50 years old, making about 450k a year working part time. The joys of being able to teach people how to program.

    Like I said, luck and opportunity can get you into a BSc and it can get you money, but it won't get you a PhD. Maybe if you'd paid attention in school you'd be better at reading comprehension than programming, though from the sounds of things this plan worked out better for you.

  • Re:engineer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ff1324 ( 783953 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @10:39PM (#40318183)

    Many moons ago, I was a junior in college and chasing down CS as my bachelor's degree. One day, I decided I'd had enough arguing with machines. Now, as a firefighter, I love coming to work, and make more than most of my friends who continued on to CS degrees.


    I'm doing the IT / programming / database / GIS work for my fire department...still arguing with machines, but now its enhanced by arguing with bureaucrats.

The greatest productive force is human selfishness. -- Robert Heinlein